Over 120 commuters attended the ScotRail meetings on Monday 3rdDecember, with venues organised by Councillors Majury and Tollemache. ScotRail’s Scott Prentice explained that around 400–500 people travel from Dunblane to Edinburgh, started off the meetings by apologising for unacceptable level of service that commuters have faced during the previous 18 months. People were late arriving to the Dunblane meeting due to a train being cancelled.
At both meetings Scott Prentice faced very robust questioning and comments with anger over the changes to the interim timetable, and other issues relating to cancellations and overcrowding.
Dunblane heard how regularly a young 22-year-old woman who works late in Edinburgh, has to regularly be picked up by car due to the last train being cancelled, as staff at Waverly refused to offer to assist with alternative transport such as paying for a taxi, as Mr Prentice confirmed they should do. Also, that removing the Linlithgow stop from services will seriously impact commuters meaning for example that one student attending a rural college will now require to get six trains and two busses a day.
The Dunblane meeting attracted commuters from as far away as Crieff who get the hourly bus service from Crieff in order to catch the 7:26 train, the replacement 7:33 train gets in to Edinburgh too late to start work. ScotRail revealed that they hadn’t look at bus times arriving from Crieff and other Strathearn communities when creating the new timetable, however have communicated the changes to bus companies.
An attendee who has been resident in Dunblane since 1956 highlighted that Dunblane has always been a commuter community, and never had any significant issues with the timetables however ScotRail seem to have neglected that Dunblane requires services that commuters need.
At Bridge of Allan attendees heard how “People have built their lives around the timetable both work and home lives, and ScotRail have just come in and changed it.”, also that it is “Going to add an extra 3 hours travelling to my day”, and that “Took over 3 hours to get from Edinburgh Park to Bridge of Allan” from commuters, amongst many other complaints.
Residents at both meetings were keen to stress that they disagreed with ScotRail’s comments that when it came to timetable changes, commuters only care about how the changes impacted themselves and not others.
Mr Prentice explained that changing timetables requires at least 8 months’ notice, so it will likely be December 2019 before any improvements are seen when compared to the interim and May 2019 timetables. ScotRail will publish the May 2019 timetable shortly and would be keen to get further feedback on this.
Dunblane and Bridge of Allan Councillor Alastair Majury said:
“I would like to thank those who attended both meetings and who were able to give ScotRail a small taste of the anger felt by the local communities of the unacceptable service that commuters have faced for the past 18months and the further reduction of service due to the new timetables. ScotRail must take onboard what they have heard on Monday and make appropriate changes as soon as possible.”